Friday, July 13, 2007

Arizona bans anti-Bush t-shirts

The Arizona legislature and the governor have passed legislation banning the sale of t-shirts that say "Bush Lied/They Died." The Arizona legislature voted unanimously in favor of the ban, which allows for the punishment of a year in jail for using the names of deceased soldiers to sell goods, and gives the families of such soldiers the right to collect civil damages.

This is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment to prohibit perfectly legitimate political speech using factual information in the public domain. Similar bans have also been passed in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, and are in the works in Florida.

In Arizona, this law also violates the state constitution (Article 2, Sections 1, 2, and 6, in my non-lawyerly opinion).

Several Democrats who voted for the bill have now agreed that they should not have, and made excuses for why they did:
"I shouldn't have voted the way I did," House Minority Leader Phil Lopes said. The Tucson Democrat blamed his vote in favor of Senate Bill 1014 on a "senior moment."
Rep. Tom Prezelski, D-Tucson, said he thought problems he originally had with the measure had been fixed. He acknowledged not reading the final version.
And Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, conceded that she wasn't paying attention and was totally unaware of the contents of the bill on which she voted at least twice—once after a proponent of the measure gave a short floor speech explaining the essence of the bill and why he believed it was necessary.
Our governor, also a Democrat, has given an equally lame response when asked why she signed such a clearly unconstitutional bill:
...gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L'Ecuyer said a divided vote would not have resulted in a veto.
"Her concern is for the families who lost someone," L'Ecuyer said.
Asked if Napolitano, a lawyer, believes the measure is unconstitutional, L'Ecuyer's only response was, "The governor signed the bill."
Napolitano cannot be re-elected, and after this, she clearly should not be. Any legislator who voted for this bill should be given the boot, which means cleaning out the entire Arizona legislature. Toss the bums out!

The shirts are being sold by Dan Frazier of Flagstaff, who also offers some different messages on top of the list of names of the fallen soldiers.

The Arizona Civil Liberties Union has already filed a lawsuit to overturn the law (PDF).

If anyone in Phoenix is interested in purchasing some of these shirts as part of a group purchase (or as my resale at cost to you, so I can work some civil disobedience of an unconstitutional law into it), please let me know.

UPDATE (August 24, 2007): Dan Frazier has gone to court to get an injunction against the law, but it looks like the legislators wrote the law not only in ignorance of the Constitution, but in ignorance of what Frazier is doing--the law doesn't ban the sale of items using the names of fallen soldiers, it bans advertising using the names of fallen soldiers. The names are not legible on Frazier's website, so he may not fall afoul of the law. That doesn't change the fact that it's a bad, unconstitutional law, however.


Heathen Dan said...

I live halfway across the world (Philippines) but I'd be happy to get a shirt. :)

Mr. McNicky said...

Man, what a world!